Daniel Trabue

Historical Marker #1782 in Columbia notes the service of pioneer Daniel Trabue.

When one thinks of Kentucky’s early explorers, names like Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton, and William Clark immediately come to mind. These pioneers, however, were not alone in their efforts. Scores of other men and women helped settle the Bluegrass State. One such person was Daniel Trabue.

A descendant of French Huguenots, Trabue was born in 1760 and was raised in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Like many young men of his generation, Trabue was intrigued by the news of opportunities in the western lands across the Appalachian Mountains, a land that was then becoming known as Kentucky.

As a teenager, Daniel made a trip through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky with his brother, James. He stayed in Kentucky for nearly three years, spending time at Fort Boonesborough and Fort Logan. He returned home to Virginia before the close of the Revolutionary War and peddled goods to American soldiers during the Yorktown campaign. In 1782, Daniel married Mary Haskins and began to attain land and a degree of wealth. Daniel always remembered the luxurious Kentucky lands and made plans to return.

In 1785, Trabue and his new family took the Ohio River route to Kentucky and settled in Fayette County, near the Kentucky River. After staying there several years they relocated to the southwest, to lands near the Green River in present-day Adair County.

In this new location Daniel became a community leader. He helped survey and establish the town of Columbia, where he served as sheriff and justice of the peace. In the early 1820s, Daniel built a house perched on a hill overlooking Columbia that still stands today. Financial problems forced the Trabues to leave the home in 1828, but they remained in the area. Daniel died in 1840, but his legacy lives on through an autobiographical account that he left in 1827 titled “Westward into Kentucky: The Narrative of Daniel Trabue.”